Madame Bovary

Being a fan of classic literature, I just started reading the book Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (forgive me if I spelled his name wrong). I’ve read that at the time of publication is was an extremely controversial book, so much so that he was put on trial for it. I’ve also read that it is now considered to be one of the greatest books in literature.
So far I’m enjoying the book very much, though I’m only on page 90. From what little I read I can sympathise with the main charactor, Emma Bovary. though it is no excuse for her cheating on her husband, she was a product of what the people around her taught her. To have a certain idea about what love and marriage was. And she was also the victim of a very over active imagination.
I plan on reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the near future. I think it is to this day still considered a controversial novel, but again a true classic as well.
I was just wondering what people think about these books. Whether they believe it a sin to read such books.

I’ve read both of them. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is rather funny in its purple prose. And the symbolism is heavy handed. Madame Bovary is beautifully written, but I never felt much for her - it was her poor husband whom I felt sorry for.

A sin to read them? Not in my book.

I hate Madame Bovary (the book, not the poor lady, though I won’t say I like her much). I agree that it hardly glorifies her actions and in fact shows how completely cut loose from reality she is. But I think there is a basic hatred of life–particularly of ordinary, day-to-day life in an ordinary village–running through the book, and I found that atmosphere utterly poisonous (I read it in French for a class in college, and of course this plunged me far more deeply into it than if I were reading it in translation, both because you get the full effect of Flaubert’s incomparable prose and because it takes a lot longer for a native English-speaker!). In other words, I think the book is radically immoral not because it glorifies adultery but because it doesn’t glorify anything. That is not to say you shouldn’t read it–I think reading it probably made me a more moral person, and I think that one should be adventurous in one’s reading anyway. But it was a terribly unpleasant experience.

In Christ,


I just finished readin the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I thought it was an incredible book. Very depressing at the end, but the prose and the story over all was just incredible. When I first read about the book I was expecting it to have explisite sexual scenes (or should i say writing) in it, but it was completely tame by todays standards. I can see where it was very controversial for the day and age that it was published.
I actually had deep compasion for Emma Bovary, and I know many people will disagree. I don’t excuse her behavior, and I do admit that she’s one of the most selfish charactors I ever seen, but she was still very pitiable. She was the victim of a very over active immagination and a victim of what society had made her. She was cursed with being a woman in a mans society. Men expected woman to be subserviant in those days, and she was a very strong willed and passionate person. But you can see that she never grew emotionaly. She read these love stories in her childhood and formed in her mind an ideal of what love should be. She expected it to be constant passion and adventure.
What i found to be so interesting though, was that even as she’s commiting these grave sins and sinking so deeply into her vices, she still has a yearning to be pure and good, to be like the Saints. She has a deep love for the church. It just throws into and even brighter light what a tortured soul she was.
I’d like to hear others thoughts about this book.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit